Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Water-cleanup Catalysts Tackle Biomass Upgrading

Published: Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Rice University researchers register 4th ‘volcano plot’ for palladium-gold catalysts.

Rice University chemical engineer Michael Wong has spent a decade amassing evidence that palladium-gold nanoparticles are excellent catalysts for cleaning polluted water, but even he was surprised at how well the particles converted biodiesel waste into valuable chemicals.

Through dozens of studies, Wong’s team focused on using the tiny metallic specks to break down carcinogenic and toxic compounds. But his latest study, which is available online and due for publication in an upcoming issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Chemical Science, examined whether palladium-gold nanocatalysts could convert glycerol, a waste byproduct of biodiesel production, into high-value chemicals.

In scientific parlance, the data from the study produced a “volcano plot,” a graph with a sharp spike that depicts a “Goldilocks effect,” a “just right” balance of palladium and gold that is faster - about 10 times faster - at converting glycerol than catalysts of either metal alone.

“We’ve now seen this volcano plot at least four times now, first with TCE, then with the dry cleaning contaminant ‘perc,’ and more recently with chloroform and nitrites,” Wong said. “The remarkable thing is that the reaction, in each case, is very different.”

In previous studies, the nanocatalysts were used in reduction reactions, chemical processes marked by the addition of hydrogen. In the latest tests on glycerol conversion, the nanocatalysts spurred an oxidation reaction, which involves adding oxygen.

“Oxidation and reduction aren’t just dissimilar; they’re often thought of as being in opposite directions,” Wong said.

In chemistry, the role of the catalyst is much like that of a matchmaker; catalysts cause other compounds to react with one another, often by bringing them into close proximity, but the catalysts themselves don’t take part in the reaction. Catalysts often speed up reactions that would otherwise happen too slowly, and drugmakers and chemical companies use catalysts to improve the efficiency of their chemical processing. The global market for industrial catalysts is projected to top $19 billion by 2016.

Palladium and gold - and mixtures of the two - have long been recognized as extremely effective catalysts. Among catalysts, gold is now valued because it doesn’t tarnish or oxidize, a process that can shorten a catalyst’s lifespan. Palladium is typically prized because it is especially good at binding and inducing molecules to reduce or oxidize. Wong and colleagues have demonstrated a way to bring these two metals together with better control. They build their catalysts on gold spheres that are about four nanometers in diameter. The spheres are partially covered with palladium, so that the particles’ surface contains some gold and some palladium.

Wong and colleagues have shown that covering 60-80 percent of the gold’s surface area with palladium typically produces the ideal catalyst - though the exact percentage varies for different reactions.

“Our synthesis knob, the thing we use to dial in the efficiency, is the coverage area, and the precision of that knob is really what sets us apart from other people who are studying bimetallic catalysis,” Wong said. “That precision is what produces these beautiful volcano plots, but it also helps in another way because it allows us to develop a rigorous explanation for the effects that we’re measuring.”

In the latest study, Wong, Rice graduate student and lead author Zhun Zhao and colleagues from Rice, Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Groningen in Holland used high-powered X-ray spectroscopy and other techniques to show that the “Goldilocks” coverage area for glycerol catalysis was about 60 percent.

“Palladium by itself oxidizes, which is not good because it slows down the catalysis,” Zhao said. “We found that the gold in our catalysts helps stabilize the palladium and prevents it from degrading. The catalysts in our tests had extremely high durability. Our best catalyst produced a glycerol product with higher purity and in less time than anything else we found in the literature.”

Wong said the research opens up an exciting new area of exploration for his lab.

“Now that we understand how these work with glycerol, we can study reactions of other biomass molecules like glucose, a building block of plants,” Wong said.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,400+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Magnetic Nanoparticles May Reveal Early Traces Of Cancer
Rice University students’ computer program aids MD Anderson diagnostic initiative .
Friday, April 29, 2016
Rare DNA Will Have Nowhere To Hide
Two National Institutes of Health grants back Rice University effort to develop new diagnostics.
Friday, April 08, 2016
Scientists Synthesize Anti-Cancer Agent
A team led by Rice University synthetic organic chemist K.C. Nicolaou has developed a new process for the synthesis of a series of potent anti-cancer agents originally found in bacteria.
Monday, March 14, 2016
‘Big Data’ Drills Down Into Metabolic Details
Rice University bioengineers introduce efficient way to analyze, compare tissue-specific pathways.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Cancer Cells’ Evasive Action Revealed
Rice, MD Anderson scientists analyze suppression of proteins key to immune recognition.
Friday, March 04, 2016
DNA Analysis in the Fast Lane
Rice bioengineers' method should lead to better database of thermal behaviors.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Bacteria Attack Lignin with Enzymatic Tag Team
Team from Rice, University of Wisconsin-Madison shows how nature handles lignin.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Obstacles Not Always a Hindrance to Proteins
Rice researchers’ theory finds blocked path sometimes speeds DNA sequence search.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Red Means ‘Go’ to Therapeutic Viruses
Rice University scientists use light to switch viral activity and deliver cargoes to cells.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Chemical Design Made Easier
Rice University scientists prepare elusive organocatalysts for drug and fine chemical synthesis.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Biomarker Finder Adjusts On the Fly
Rice University scientists build better tool to find signs of disease.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Gene On-Off Switch Works Like Backpack Strap
Texas Medical Center-based team unravels how loops form in genome.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Structure of Protein at Root of Muscular Disease Decoded
Researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have unlocked the structural details of a protein seen as key to treating a neuromuscular disease.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Researchers Find New Clue to Halting Leukemia Relapse
A protein domain once considered of little importance may be key to helping patients who are fighting acute myeloid leukemia (AML) avoid a relapse.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Imaging Software Could Speed Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Technology could improve access to diagnostic services in developing countries.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Scientific News
Releasing Cancer Cells for Better Analysis
A new device developed at the University of Michigan could provide a non-invasive way to monitor the progress of an advanced cancer treatment.
Releasing Cancer Cells for Better Analysis
A new device developed at the University of Michigan could provide a non-invasive way to monitor the progress of an advanced cancer treatment.
Apricot Kernels Pose Risk of Cyanide Poisoning
Eating more than three small raw apricot kernels, or less than half of one large kernel, in a serving can exceed safe levels. Toddlers consuming even one small apricot kernel risk being over the safe level.
Cell Transplant Treats Parkinson’s in Mice
A University of Wisconsin—Madison neuroscientist has inserted a genetic switch into nerve cells so a patient can alter their activity by taking designer drugs that would not affect any other cell.
Understanding Female HIV Transmission
Glowing virus maps points of entry through entire female reproductive tract for first time.
Genetic Markers Influence Addiction
Differences in vulnerability to cocaine addiction and relapse linked to both inherited traits and epigenetics, U-M researchers find.
Lab-on-a-Chip for Detecting Glucose
By integrating microfluidic chips with fiber optic biosensors, researchers in China are creating ultrasensitive lab-on-a-chip devices to detect glucose levels.
A lncRNA Regulates Repair of DNA Breaks in Breast Cancer Cells
Findings give "new insight" into biology of tough-to-treat breast cancer.
COPD Linked to Increased Bacterial Invasion
Persistent inflammation in COPD may result from a defect in the immune system that allows airway bacteria to invade deeper into the lung.
Detection of HPV in First-Void Urine
Similar sensitivity of HPV test on first void urine sample compared to cervical smear.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,400+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!